Columbia Silver Ridge Stretch II - Women's Review
Cons: Not as comfortable, may run small
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Columbia Silver Ridge Stretch II is 95% nylon and 5% elastane. The deep wine color we reviewed has become a favorite of ours, easily dressed up or down in. Hailed for features like sun protection and repellency, these Columbia shorts are characteristically well-designed for the average, yet avid hiker in mind. From the casual stroll beneath Fall's changing colors to the dead heat of summer on an exposed trail, we are yet to be disappointed by their overall performance.
Not the best and not the worst, being around the middle isn't a bad place to be, in our opinion. This pair of shorts is nevertheless celebrated for its style and added material technology.
Comfort and Mobility
General comfort is where the Silver Ridge shorts score well for this metric, but well for them isn't as notable as the top performers. Wearing them all day is only decent in comparison, as the metal snap region of the waistband slightly irritated our abdomen. Mobility, however, is thankfully high. Stretching out in them after hiking and using a foam roller is easy and not cumbersome. It's easy to find comfort merely in how they move with you.
We found the fabric to not be as flexible as many of the others, but the 5-inch inseam doesn't impede our stride while hiking. Encountering incline or climbing stairs is fluid, but the fit is a hair too small, we think, especially in the butt region for those with curvier hips. We didn't notice this snugness until going up hills, however, and after a while, we seemed to notice it less and less. The fit in the waist is fine and true to size, on the other hand, so this slight discomfort in the rear might not be the case for everyone. In summary, it seems the fit caters to those with straighter silhouettes.
Venting and Breathability
Similarly above-average in this metric, these shorts breathe well enough and vent adequately due to their short nature. They are notable for their athleticism and fare well in hot weather, wicking moisture without us even noticing how sweaty we're getting. On the hottest days, we didn't have sweat pooling against our skin or leaving giant, unflattering wet spots. Though, if we had items in our pockets, we did notice that sweat was less likely to dissipate, leaving moisture on the item, such as a phone.
Since they are so short and do breathe well, it's essential to keep in mind how they might feel when the weather turns sour and windy. When summer thunderstorms come around, and the temperatures drop in the afternoons, we find ourselves opting for longer inseams nearly every time; this is the one downside to having high breathability in apparel. Therefore, finding a pair that ranks around the middle or slightly below average might actually be of benefit in this regard.
The look of these shorts grew on us quickly. The feminine touch to the stitching and cargo-esque pocket design makes them easily transferrable to town. The color matches well with a variety of tops, in our opinion, and the short inseam is youthful. Thankfully style doesn't mean function has been sacrificed. The technicality of the material allows for use while cycling, scrambling, stretching, etcetera, all while instilling the feeling of comfort in regard to "looking cute."
The likelihood of us using these shorts in any other season but summer means the versatility across the year is limited. Cross-activity practicality is also limited by the inseam, as wearing a harness wouldn't be as intuitive and comfortable as a pair with more length. All of this aside, the main purpose of hiking in the summer is well-covered. When it comes to overall versatility as compared to the others, the mark they earn is, once again, above average. Keep in mind that above-average does imply higher quality than what is average for the market.
Constructed with Columbia's Omni-Shield repellency, water and stain resistance is outstanding, earning the Silver Ridge one of the highest scores as compared to the others for this metric. Anytime we accidentally spilled water, tea, or coffee on ourselves, the liquid rolled off easily.
More extensive splashes, such as the laboratory-like test we conducted on all of the shorts, did yield water soaking in, of course. Water did bead nicely and roll away, and the water that did soak dried relatively quickly. Not meant to be waterproof, we appreciate the rate the fabric dries all the more, which is factored into the metric for Features.
Stacked with key features, this competitor nearly has it all. The material has Columbia's Omni-Shade UPF 30 sun protection and Omni-Shield™ repellency, as just discussed. Other features include belt loops, a metal snap and zipper waist closure, and four decently sized pockets. The front two pockets are more spacious than the rear ones due to their cargo-styled stitching. This cargo detail allows for items to create bulk in an outwards fashion as opposed to pulling the short more tightly against your skin. One of the rear pockets has a zipper, and the other has a patch of velcro with the upper lip folding over, which has a small loop of cordelette to help open the pocket. We appreciate the variety and added security with these design touches.
We did notice, last minute, that the cordelette loop in our pair seems to be pulling out already. We do not recall it catching on anything, so we are unsure as to whether this is our fault or not. Regardless, we shouldn't expect the loop to come undone so readily and, thus, this might be a design flaw in overall durability for this feature. Beyond this, the material stands up against the light abrasion we encountered while scrambling. The fabric also dries fast when wet, which is incredibly important. Staying wet for too long in the backcountry can become a hazard.
There's no other way to say it: this is an incredible deal. The performance quality is more than worth it for such an affordable price. Made in Vietnam, these shorts come with a one year warranty. We highly recommend this pair as long the fit is right.
With only a few specific setbacks in fit and comfort, the overall reliability of the Columbia Silver Ridge Stretch II is a must for the wardrobe. Earning a Top Pick award for classic style and the variety of features offered, they won't let you down, no matter the difficulty of the hike. While not the most comfortable on the market, they are a great day-hiking choice with numerous attributes.
— Sara Aranda